What Does The Mississippi River Name Mean

When most people hear the name ‘Mississippi River’, they generally associate it with the longest river in North America and the 41st longest river in the world, but what does the name actually mean and what is its history?

Historians believe that the name ‘Mississippi’ is derived from the Anishinaabe word ‘misi-ziibi’ – which translates as ‘great river’ or ‘gathering together water’ which is perfect for the vast river of life that is the Mississippi. The source of the Mississippi is located in Lake Itasca in Minnesota, and it flows through the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri, before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. It is estimated that the river travels an astonishing 2,300 miles before it reaches its end.

In terms of trying to understand the history of how the name Mississippi came to be, the truth is that it is still uncertain. Some believe that the original name was given by the French explorer Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle who named it ‘Riviere des Ilinois’ in 1682 – which translates to ‘River of the Ilinoiss’. On the other hand, it is just as likely that the French-Canadian journalist and explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville was responsible for the name’s origin – in 1699, he referred to the river with the Algonquian name ‘Misi-ziibi’, translating to ‘great river’ or ‘gathering together water’, which may have been the origin of the English name Mississippi.

The river has an important role in the American economy and has played an essential part in the history and culture of the South. It is true to say that the Mississippi is often thought to be the lifeblood of the United States, as it allows goods and goods to be traded, transported and sold in the region. It is also known for its murky and deep waters, something that has made it the perfect setting for many stories and scenic views.

The Mississippi has also had its share of problems. One of the most noteworthy of these is the fact that it is known as one of the most contaminated rivers in the country, thanks to the numerous amount of chemicals from sewer systems and runoff from all of the nearby cities and towns that dump their waste into its waters. This lead to numerous public health warnings being issued about swimming or drinking the water. Despite this, the river is still one of the most beautiful rivers in the US, with its lush green shores, peaceful forests, and picturesque views.

In conclusion, the Mississippi River is an important part of the American history and culture, and it holds a special place in the hearts of many. Historians are still uncertain as to the origin of the name of the river, but it ultimately boils down to the Anishinaabe word ‘misi-ziibi’, meaning ‘great river’ or ‘gathering together water’ – an apt description of this mighty and broad river.


The Mississippi is the second busiest trading route in the United States, the busiest being the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. It is well known for the plethora of goods that it transports between the Midwest and Southern regions of the US. Trade on the Mississippi River is not limited to goods however, as it is also used for the transportation of passengers on ‘River Tour’ boats. These tours offer tourists the unique chance to experience the history and culture of the river first hand, and is an opportunity not to be missed.

The trading importance of the Mississippi was established in the mid-19th century with the completion of the St. Louis & Illinois Railroad, allowing for increased shipment and transport of goods throughout the Midwest, and then further south to the Gulf Coast. Trade on the river has seen peaks and troughs over the years, but it remains a key part of the American economy.

The traded goods range from food and agricultural goods to fuel, such as oil and coal, and then on to bigger items such as construction materials, large machinery and even aircraft. The goods shipped on the river also span different countries as many goods are imported and exported to countries such as India, Japan and China, showing just how important this river is on a global scale.


Due to its importance as a trading route, and its vast scope, the Mighty Mississippi is, unfortunately, a victim of the pollution caused by human activity. This means that the river is subjected to a variety of pollutants, ranging from trash and discarded items to waste from manufacturing processes, agricultural runoff and even sewage from cities and towns nearby.

This pollution can cause a huge amount of health risks for human beings and also for the environment in which the river resides. The pollution can affect air quality, water quality and lead to the death of fish and plant life, sometimes in huge amounts. In addition to this, higher levels of pollutants can also make the water unsafe to drink and cause diseases through contact with the skin, such as infected cuts and scratches that become infected due to the polluted water.

In response to this, organizations have been set up to help promote cleanliness and sustainability of the river and its surroundings. These organizations are focused on analyzing and recording the levels of pollutants, setting up clean-up operations and making the public aware of the dangers of exposure. Sadly, until more effective methods are taken to reduce the levels of pollution, the Mississippi and its importance will continue to be at risk.


Despite the danger of pollution, the Mississippi remains a popular destination for recreational activities such as fishing and boating. The river is packed with a variety of fish species, such as bass, catfish, and carp, attracting a plethora of fishers to its banks. Alongside fishing, the river also plays a role in transportation, with the stretch of water and its many islands providing navigable routes between the Midwest and Southern states. This has been taken advantage of by tourists, who travel the river as a way to explore the regions and towns, many of which are inaccessible by other means due to their geographical isolation.

Finally, the Mississippi also attracts recreational pilots and glider pilots, who use the wind and currents of the river to glide across the vast expanse of the water. This unique experience offers a unique way to take in the views of the banks and appreciate the beauty of the river from up high. It is also a great way to experience the mixed history, culture and beauty of the river in a safe form of transportation.


The Mississippi has been an integral part of the history of the Americas since its first discovered by European explorers. It has been the centre of many of its exploration, colonization and trade. It is also true to say that the river has played an important role in the the exploration and growth of the United States, as a source of food, transportation and communication, during the colonial and early republic period.

The river was integral in the development of American industries, as traders and merchants used it to transport goods back and forth between towns and states. This exchange of goods and services helped to build economies in the Midwest, enabling them to grow and even become the manufacturing and agricultural hub that we know today.

In addition, the Mississippi has had a great influence on the culture of the area, most notably the music scene. The folk and blues genres originated alongside the Mississippi, and the activities of the river has been immortalized in many of these songs – which have gone on to influence music from all of the world.

At the time of European contact, the river was used by Native Americans for trade, transportation and hunting purposes. Even today, the influence of the native peoples on the Mississippi is still visible, with small communities living along the banks of the river preserving their culture and history.


The banks of the Mississippi are the home to a variety of animal and plant life, ranging from birds, fish and amphibians to trees, shrubs and more. It is said that the river is home to more than 200 species of fish, 24 different species of freshwater mussels, and over 300 species of birds. The river also plays an important role in the migration patterns of many species, and a number of endangered species can be found in its waters.

In addition to the more natural inhabitants of the river, the river is home to a variety of full-time inhabitants, including beavers, river otters and muskrats. These animals have adapted to the fast-flowing waters of the Mississippi and are a fascinating part of the river’s ecosystem. It is possible to spot these animals near the banks of the river, although caution should always be taken if you choose to do so.

The river also acts as a refuge for larger animals such as bears, deer and even bobcats. These animals can also be seen near the banks of the Mississippi, although it is important to remember that they are wild animals and should be viewed with caution.

Among the more interesting inhabitants of the river is the American crocodile. Unbeknownst to most, this reptile can be found in the waters of the Mississippi, specifically in its southernmost stretch, in a region known as ‘Old River’. This reptile is the only one to be found in the country, making it an incredibly unique sighting for any brave enough to chance it.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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